Cavaliers left with a mountain to climb
OAKLAND, California (AP) — The repeat championship the Golden State Warriors have spoken about since the very start more than eight months ago is suddenly two wins from becoming reality.
That's the only way the Warriors' record-setting season will feel right. They certainly look unstoppable.
Draymond Green flexed his bulging biceps with big plays on both ends of the floor all night for 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Stephen Curry scored 18 points despite foul trouble, and Golden State thoroughly overwhelmed the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-77 in game two of the NBA Finals last night.
Once the Splash Brothers found their shooting touch, Cleveland could not keep up. Klay Thompson got hot after half-time to finish with 17 points and five assists as Golden State became the first team to go ahead 2-0 in the finals since the Lakers in 2009 against Orlando.
“What we've done the last few years, everybody, every night has an impact,” Curry said. “You don't know where it's going to come from any given night. We've got to keep our focus and our edge and hopefully get two more.”
Now, the series shifts to Cleveland, and LeBron James and the Cavaliers must show up for game three on Wednesday in front of their title-starved fans, down 2-0 to the defending champions and with forward Kevin Love dealing with a head injury.
The NBA said Love experienced dizziness early in the second half and left for the locker room to be re-examined, then was placed in the NBA's concussion protocol. The league said he did not exhibit any symptoms before then, even after taking an elbow to the back of the head from Harrison Barnes in the second quarter and going down for several minutes before returning following a timeout.
He made a baseline three-pointer for the Cavaliers' first basket in nearly 5½ minutes.
After a scoreless first quarter when he missed all five shots but had five assists, James scored 14 of his 19 points in the second and also finished with nine assists and eight rebounds. James's teams had won nine straight postseason game twos after losing the series opener dating back to a loss in the 2008 Eastern Conference semi-finals to Boston.
After Curry and Thompson combined for only 20 points in Thursday's 104-89 game one win on eight-for-27 shooting and the bench carried the load, they each hit four three-pointers and went 13 for 24.
Leandro Barbosa had three straight transition layups in the third quarter and scored ten points for his first back-to-back postseason games in double figures since 2008.
The Warriors' 87 victories combined from their record 73-win regular season and the play-offs matched the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, the group Golden State topped for the most regular season victories in NBA history of 73.
Andrew Bogut had four blocks in the first 7:15 and received a standing ovation when he came out at 3:50 in the first then went to the locker room late in the quarter. He hit his hand on the rim early and grimaced in pain.
Even with a fully healthy roster this time, the Cavaliers were going to be underdogs in a series against the defending champions who set the single-season record for wins with 73.
But now they're in a 2-0 hole, and the task of delivering the first sports championship to Cleveland in 52 years seems much more daunting.
A team has jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the finals 31 times. That team has gone on to win the title 28 of those times. The Miami Heat were the last team to rally from an 0-2 hole in the Finals when they beat Dallas in 2006.
These aren't the Mavericks, who were a good team with a formidable star in Dirk Nowitzki.
These are the historically good Warriors, with Curry, Thompson, Green and a bench deep enough to hold things down when the stars need a breather.